Pop Quiz

Gavin Rossdale
Bush’s singer fronts the last angry band
by Aidin Vaziri, Special to The Chronicle
San Fransico Chronicle
October 21, 2001

Toward the middle of the ’90s, Bush arrived to find that most of the bands of its kind — Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Silverchair — had become virtually obsolete. But with handsome front man Gavin Rossdale and a polished guitar racket working in its favor, the British band’s four members merely shrugged and went on to sell platinum albums galore. Rossdale’s high-profile relationship with No Doubt singer Gwen Stefani certainly couldn’t have hurt matters. Neither could his almost constant presence in the gossip columns. Bush releases its fourth album, “Golden State,” this week. The first single is “The People That We Love.”

Q: So, you’re like the last angry band.

A: Yeah, it’s kind of weird because in a funny way we always got in trouble for coming later. So it’s kind of ironic because we’re probably on the tail end of a certain time, yet having to compete and exist in a different time. I feel like it doesn’t matter if someone arrives late, as long as they get there.

But yeah, I do feel that. I understand that position without understanding why. I guess I was always told it’s better to arrive a little late.

Q: Some people were expecting “Golden State” to be an answer record to all the personal things Gwen wrote about you on No Doubt’s “Return of Saturn.”

A: What, a reply record like Tori Amos?

Q: Yeah. Like, on “Simple Kind of Life,” Gwen sings, “You seem like you’d be a good dad.” On “The People That We Love,” you could have sung, “Actually, I think I’d make a really lousy dad.”

A: Er, um, no. When it comes to that stuff, you just shut your eyes and go forward.

Q: What did you think of all those things she said about you?

A: Whenever I hear her record I’ve got to listen to every line just in case.

There’s usually something. Sometimes you can be a little tentative when you first hear a song, just to make sure you’re seeing where it’s at. If a line comes up like “Every time you’re so s– to me,” then you go, “Hmmm.”

Q: She doesn’t hold back, does she?

A: No, no. She’s pretty brutal like that.

Q: Some of her lines even make me feel like groveling for forgiveness on your behalf.

A: Thank you. Thank you for addressing my pain. I always shout, “Can’t you f– cloak it? Can’t you say something else?”

Q: Maybe you should buy her a book about metaphors.

A: Yeah. “Haven’t you heard about a simile?” (Laughs) The good thing is, I’m clear on most of the songs she’s written for the next No Doubt record. I get a B for behavior.

Q: Even though you are in a very public relationship, do girls still hit on you?

A: No. Sometimes people are excited to meet me, but that happens with anyone in a band. It’s just like, bands breed excitement. I don’t mean sexually, I just sort of mean lifewise. People stop and talk to me, and it’s a nice charged moment.

Q: How do you feel about all the things the tabloids write about you?

A: The tabloid side of it is really silly. I’ve been murdered by it a couple times.

Q: What’s the worst thing that has ever been written about you?

A: Probably the worst one was where they had all these pictures of me with different girls. I mean, what can you do? You’re talking to a girl and someone takes your picture. Someone made a whole collection of those and it was really unlucky. Outside of that, I’ve tried to keep the songs and the band the most important thing. I never courted that stuff. Just after a while you get stereotyped.

Q: What is your definition of a golden state?

A: The album title is just a reference to the freeway to Gwen. That’s where we lived and it was on the way to the studio. I wanted a title that summed up the period of writing and making the album and that was it. It was a great time to be in L.A. and to be living some kind of semblance of a normal life. I was driving to work and making something that we loved. It was a great way to live.

Q: Where do you live now?

A: I’m where Gwen is and where my dog is. That’s home, wherever they are.

Q: Where do you keep all your stuff?

A: Well, there’s more of my own stuff in my London house, but I infiltrate. There’s plenty of things in both places.

Q: Do you find it hard to keep your edge when life is so good?

A: No, not at all. I don’t find that whatsoever because I find there are different perspectives to things. I never wrote about lack of money or lack of food on my table. I never lived in the Third World. I’ve always had enough money to buy a sandwich. I mean, fuck, it didn’t stop Picasso from making a painting. I don’t see the two connected unless your only ambition is to be a rock star. I just wanted to be Brian Eno, but now I have four rock records. To think I would only do rock music forever is crazy. It was never intentional.